ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — Richard Cravens spends a good part of his professional life paying attention to deadlines. The attorney defends homeowners in foreclosure proceedings and sometimes houses can be saved or lost in the span of just a few days.
When his mail carrier stopped delivering certified and registered mail that requires a signature, Cravens spoke up. In the past year, he told KRQE News 13 that he has complained about his carrier more than a half-dozen times to the United States Postal Service. The USPS Office of the Inspector General has opened an investigation, but the carrier remains on Cravens’ postal route — and Cravens’ problem remains unsolved.
The Postal Service said in a written statement that it “will continue to monitor the situation” and make sure Cravens’ mail is delivered. A spokeswoman refused to comment further and laughed when a reporter asked whether the carrier had an issue with Cravens.
The problems began in October 2015, the attorney said, when the mail carrier — who did not identify himself to KRQE News 13 and was not identified by the Postal Service — walked into Cravens’ newly opened law office.
“He came in the door with some packages (and) threw them on our reception desk, hitting my receptionist with at least one of those packages,” Cravens said.
“That was our introduction to this guy a year ago. I went out after him and said, ‘Hey, did we get off on the wrong foot? What’s going on?'”
Cravens said the carrier assured him there was no problem, but since that day, getting mail or packages that require a signature has been hit or miss at best.
Since court cases often require documents to be sent through the Postal Service, Cravens said he has been in danger of missing deadlines when his carrier hasn’t delivered such letters or when he has had to drive to the post office to pick up a letter any other customer would have delivered.
“We’re open for business, the front door will be open and if I have a registered mail or a certified letter of some sort, he will not walk in the door to give it to us,” Cravens said.
In an effort to minimize the carrier’s need to walk into the office, the attorney installed a secure outdoor mailbox in his courtyard. But Cravens said the carrier would often place incoming mail — which can include checks for clients — in the unsecured outgoing part of the mailbox. When Cravens was able to address the matter face to face, he said the carrier laughed.
“He giggled at me and then stopped delivering my mail altogether for a while after that,” Cravens said.
The attorney showed surveillance video of the mail carrier making a delivery earlier this month to the outdoor mailbox. The delivery appears to be normal, but Cravens said inside the stack of mail was a card saying the carrier had attempted to deliver a letter that required a signature. The video shows an employee a few feet away from the mailbox. The carrier makes no attempt to talk to the employee or to walk into the office. Cravens had to go the local post office branch to get his letter.
During an interview with Cravens last week, a USPS supervisor arrived at the lawyer’s office to deliver a letter that required a signed receipt. The supervisor did not comment to KRQE News 13 about the regular carrier’s reluctance to deliver the mail.
Cravens has since contacted his congressional representative in an effort to find a way to have his mail delivered like anyone else might.
“I can’t not do something,” he said. “I have my responsibilities to my clients, my responsibilities to the court, my responsibilities to my business. I have to keep my doors open. And in order to do so, I have to get my mail. I don’t know what to do.”
Confronted by KRQE News 13 this week, the carrier deflected blame, telling a reporter to ask Cravens if there was a problem between the two and to ask a supervisor why the Postal Service had to spend additional money to have a supervisor do the carrier’s job.
After a minute of answering questions, the carrier told KRQE News 13, “I’m busy; I’m delivering the mail,” before shutting his mail truck door and driving away.